MFW: Companies on show face East

Dark clothes, Frida Giannini of Gucci talks of dark romanticism, to go with the seriousness of the times, with brightly coloured accessories to exorcise the difficulties of the last few months. Milan Moda Donna is here after the New York and London fashion shows, richer in international labels, but strong in its anti-crisis theme.

Perhaps this year there’s a bit more passion and heart in it. Even a few tears from the notoriety and talent of designer Raf Simons, at his very last parade for Jil Sander. Simons who’ll be replaced by Jil Sander herself cried before saying goodbye to his public, but so did a few fashion editors. Anna Wintour stood up and Suzy Menkes wrote in the New York Times that, more and more often, designers are being treated like products, bought and left at home by the fashion houses following their business strategies.

But this year the heart of Made in Italy, usually hiding behind all the bubbles and smiles of the occasion, even came out in the show rooms of via Montenapoleone. Alberto Moretti, artistic director of Arfango, proudly explained to FashionUnited, that Italian talent and craftmanship are an unrivalled business card, as was the delicious tomato soup offered to the Press and Buyers in the showroom. “ “You have to learn to join forces in order to win and Italian companies have to learn to change their mentality”, said Moretti, emphasising that the Asian markets are the ones to focus on. This tendency immediately becomes clear after a few minutes of listening to the accents of the buyers queueing up to watch the shows. No coincidence that Prada, whose collection plays on heavy jackets, very high heeled shoes and lots of colour, put itself down for Hong Kong last June.

According to data from Sistema moda Italia, exports from Italian fashion companies have grown by 11.6% and China and The Far East have become the world’s market with the greatest potential for growth (+29.5%). Exports have shown a slow down compared with the first six months of last year, when growth was 15.6%. Furthermore, according to Fashion Economic trends of the national Chamber of Fashion, the year 2012 will definitely be one of recession but less difficult than 2008-09 because the crisis is concentrated in Europe. “This time, according to estimations, losses should be limited to some 5%", explained the President of the Chamber of Fashion, Mario Boselli.

As was clearly seen over the days of fashion week, a situation to which companies respond in different ways. Some, like Furla and Fratelli Rossetti give brush strokes of red, green and yellow to shoes and bags for winter 2012-13. Others, like Shoe manufacturer Ballin from the Veneto region, focus on a new strategy of e-commerce that will shortly come to light. The Web as a sales channel is also for Uniqueness 1.02 (The 2 because it’s the second non-seasonal collection), a brand that was born from a collaboration between Pinko and Alessandra Facchinetti. Instead advertising and new shops are the winning card for Giorgio Armani. ''Difficulties haven’t made an impact because we have worked and invested in advertising and new shops''. Single brands, in the Asian areas, even better if with local partners, are also the right strategy for Moretti of Arfango. Countries that can afford to spend between 400 and 800-1000 euros for a pair of shoes.

The 180 brands present at Pitti Immagine fairs dedicated to women are focussing almost exclusively on innovation and research (30% from abroad). White, another fair in Milan showing in the Tortona area, instead paraded the stylist of Chinese origin, Uma Wang.

From our correspondent Isabella Naef

Foto: Arfango and Emporio Armani

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